My name is Brandon Edwin Chrostowski. I'm 37 years old and 10 years ago I founded EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute in Cleveland, Ohio with the goal of changing the face of re-entry in America.

EDWINS is a proven successful mix of award-winning French cuisine, and top-tier table service combined with a unique and revolutionary social cause. We are the only white tablecloth restaurant in the country whose staff consists entirely of formerly incarcerated men and women in both the kitchen and the front of house.

We are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit whose mission is to give formerly incarcerated individuals a foundation in the hospitality industry while providing a support network necessary for successful re-entry to life outside of prison. Individuals are not only equipped with basic culinary skills, but are also assisted with finding employment, housing, basic medical care, clothing, job coaching and literacy programs. We have trained more than 166 students and only 1.2% have re-offended. We also teach the same course in prisons around the state of Ohio. We’re proving that second chances exist and the ability to change lives is possible. More background information available at www.edwinsrestaurant.org, www.facebook.com/edwinsCLE or www.twitter.com/edwinscle.

Recent Media:

Steve Harvey Show (ABC): http://www.steveharveytv.com/harveys-hero-brandon/

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/brandon-chrostowski-edwins-leadership-restaurant-institute_us_576c53b3e4b017b379f564d9

2016 CNN Heroes: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/

Reddit Front Page Conversation: https://www.reddit.com/r/UpliftingNews/comments/5n5exz/cleveland_finedining_restaurant_that_hires_excons/

Support EDWINS: http://edwinsrestaurant.org/press/

Proof: https://twitter.com/EdwinsCLE/status/826540296829861889

More Proof: https://www.facebook.com/edwinsCLE/videos/1328720297167225/

Comments: 1704 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

reverber81444 karma

How do you find former inmates for your staff—do they come to you through a referral program or do you post the jobs online, or...something else?

Also, congratulations! Rehabilitation and restoration of people who have criminal backgrounds is a special passion of mine and I love stories like yours!

Brandon_Chrostowski1265 karma

There are a number of different routes. We teach in prison, have connections with local judges, parole officers, etc. We also get good responses from our stories and features in the media.

Chtorrr1420 karma

Why do you think the food service industry is more willing to give people a second chance? I feel like many other industries are not as open to hiring people who are trying to get back in the workforce.

Brandon_Chrostowski1813 karma

This industry is more forgiving, they are looking for people who work hard, they want people who show up and they are hiring. Its the perfect opportunity for people to have a second chance

IKingJeremy763 karma

What were the most difficult obstacles to overcome in getting your business off the ground, and successful?

Brandon_Chrostowski933 karma

All the obstacles have been great opportunities. The one in particular was raising capital. It took years but made great relationships.

redthesnake1024 karma

I've eaten there before and I just want to tell you I don't think I've ever had better or more attentive service than when I was at Edwins.

The world needs more people and more establishments like you! You provide a wonderful community service.

nvduhn596 karma

This comment is making me go there today.

Brandon_Chrostowski707 karma

I hope we see you today

AngryTsundere526 karma

Have you ever had a problem with the people you have employed. If not, have you had a problem with customers viewing your restaurant?

Brandon_Chrostowski801 karma

Nothing outside of what you would encounter in a normal restaurant, in fact we probably have less. Our biggest issues are more finding ways to help our students overcome their issues more then incidents taking place at the restaurant.

iambestfresh508 karma

The concept of the business, is a great stepping stone btw. What is he hiring process like? Do you recruit or do people come to you seeking work?

Brandon_Chrostowski757 karma

Process is simple. Sign up, interview, GO. We don't recruit, its all about word of mouth. The difficult part is the first three weeks, which is like a boot camp, a lot of people don't make it out.

iambestfresh364 karma

I can imagine it is tough maybe adjusting. Like the work in the culinary area is demanding. Mental toughness

Brandon_Chrostowski567 karma

You nailed it, toughness, especially mental toughness is what you need to succeed in life

rickmuscles487 karma

Can you serve alcohol at your restaurant? If so, are there any challenges w/ your employees?

Brandon_Chrostowski805 karma

Yes, we can definitely serve alcohol. If someone is doing a 12-step program or something similar they don't necessarily have to work behind the bar. They are required to know the spirits but they don't have to be around the spirits.

HarmlessKitten412 karma

I've been diagnosed with Antisocial Personality Disorder and have a PCL-R score of 33/40. Meaning I'm a psychopath.

A lot of people like me end up going through the prison system, would you/have you hired someone like me (knowingly)? If so then what pros/cons do you think there would be/have you noticed?

Brandon_Chrostowski691 karma

Yes, you could be part of our program. We have a tough first 3 weeks to see if you can handle the intensity of the the industry. We have come across many people with different issues and we make sure there is a strong network to support all of them. Your honesty about the situation can make it better and easier, if you are willing to understand the issues you face we will be there to help you through them.

MC_Kreeper405 karma

How have you mastered fine dining, breathing, AND remembered your name?

Brandon_Chrostowski232 karma

It's just life. It's the world in which I exist and the world in which we exist. It's like asking a boy, "How do you become a man?" It's just the way it is.

But isolation from the outside helps. Keeping clarity.

phxtraveler928371 karma

What has been the reaction around Cleveland with you hiring convicts at an upscale restaurant?

Brandon_Chrostowski718 karma

Very positive. We're the pride of #CLE. People have really embraced it and they're quite proud of what we've accomplished. We've received national recognition, which highlights how proud CLE is. More than $8 million has come through the doors. It's been a smashing success.

carp31356 karma

What reaction did you usually got when you told someone about your idea of starting this program?

Brandon_Chrostowski967 karma

You are a fucking idiot, or something similar to that.

IKingJeremy215 karma

What advice would you give other entrepreneurs wanting to start their own business?

Brandon_Chrostowski533 karma

in spirit, don't stop working towards your goal. Don't EVER stop. After that, six things: one, write business plan; get it out of your head and make it vulnerable.

Two, incorporate. Take up space in our world.

Three, get your team together.

Four, develop a brand.

Five, start doing it.

And, six, and now you're ready to start raising capital.

Chtorrr203 karma

Do you have any favorite stories to share about people who have worked at Edwin's and have now moved on to other things?

Brandon_Chrostowski544 karma

They're all favorites because our graduates have shown great courage. But Lynn graduated in 2016, and has since bought his own hot dog cart, Udi Dogs. He comes by the restaurant every few weeks so the staff and students get to enjoy his food. I loved being able to send Darwin, our current sous chef, to France, too.

Chtorrr185 karma

Is Darwin going to a culinary school? That sounds amazing.

Brandon_Chrostowski418 karma

Our goal is to help our graduates get jobs in other restaurants to broaden their experience and leadership skills, but Darwin was so strong that, after graduation, we hired him as a sous chef. Now he's able to mentor and teach while he's also learning himself.

I told Darwin, like I tell all of our graduates, never stop learning but if you're set on going to culinary school, make sure you spend a few years in the industry first. You'll be surprised at how much you know and can learn just by doing.

TheArkAtek345177 karma

What has been the most negative experience you have had with an employee or applicant?

Brandon_Chrostowski321 karma

Attitudes, mostly poor attitudes, coming in with a sense of entitlement.

Pilgrom165 karma

How have members of the Cuyahoga County justice system treated you and the restaurant in the community? How have they reacted to the project, whether that be personally or within the context of policy and government?

In my experience, the Cuyahoga County judicial system seems a bit harsh toward offenders, both on a case-by-case basis and systemically. I wonder if that's your experience, and if so, how that has affected Edwin's, or how Edwin's has affected the system.

Thanks for all you do and keep up the amazing work.

Brandon_Chrostowski275 karma

They've been extremely receptive to it. Not only do they dine here, support us in public forums, but they've even gone so far as to set up a culinary club inside the county jail that we helped with, and they have put resources behind it.

Understand their justice system accommodates many municipalities.

We have a strong re-entry court and, if you look at the state of Ohio, we have more than double the amount of people coming home after prison than that of the second-largest county, yet our recidivism is lower than they state average by half a percent.

It may be a tough system, but it's a good system.

tama_chan164 karma

Do you take reservations? I'll bring my clients next time I visit Cleveland for business.

Brandon_Chrostowski176 karma

Always, give us a call at 216.921.3333 or visit our website edwinsrestaurant.org

RedHotHumanBean144 karma

What's your favorite meal to cook at home?

Brandon_Chrostowski306 karma

I'll be honest, I don't get a lot of time to cook at home, when I do its something like cereal, or a simple breakfast with my wife and kid

Dwi11142 karma

Any info on the butcher shop or is it still in the planning stages?

Brandon_Chrostowski242 karma

Plans being drafted and roof being fixed now. Construction should start in May 2016.

godaiyuhsaku211 karma

Time travel or 2017? :)

Brandon_Chrostowski298 karma

2017, I get my years confused from time to time

eye_el_jay127 karma

I'm not a felon, but I love your program! How can I be a part of it?

Brandon_Chrostowski147 karma

shoot our case manager an email [email protected] she will get you all the info you need

Redder_Rabbit110 karma

What drove you to start this program?

Brandon_Chrostowski262 karma

I got arrested and found a mentor who taught me about perfect practice.

Here's some more color: http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/

Chtorrr101 karma

What is your most popular dish at the restaurant?

Brandon_Chrostowski236 karma

Our most popular dish is the Paupiettes de merou: grouper wrapped in crispy potatoes with haricot verts & beurre rouge. Hope you can come try it sometime if you're in #CLE

BDunnn96 karma

How long does it usually take for one of your workers to do a complete turn around? From being a convict to a total success?

Do a lot of them come in with a "me against the world" attitude or do they come in knowing it's time to turn things around

Brandon_Chrostowski299 karma

I think the better question is how long does it take a human being to achieve their goals? We've all made past mistakes, so we're always striving to be better, we're always striving to improve as individuals.

I do think that someone who's done a long stretch, it takes at least a good six months to become more human because a length of time in prison affects someone's self-esteem and morale.

Insert_coolname_here91 karma

Where do you see Edwin's in the next 10, 20 years? How do you hope to expand your mission and brand?

Brandon_Chrostowski351 karma

By having the best culinary school in the country and being a civil rights leader for returning citizens. By also continuing to do what we're doing already. The campus was first, the building for the butcher shop is ready, after that it will be a bakery, cheese shop, etc. We're isolating each one of the skills in the school and teaching in a real world environment. We are affecting every aspect - the culinary aspect and the school aspect. We're also teaching a culinary program in all state prisons. The fact can not be denied that every human being deserves a fair and equal second chance.

Insert_coolname_here114 karma

I love the wraparound model of offering training, employment and housing. By investing in the properties that house students or new business ventures, you are also making our communtity a better place. I am really excited to see things unfold. Edwin's is my favorite restaurant in Cleveland...I can't wait for the butcher shop and bakery to open!

Brandon_Chrostowski75 karma

Thanks, appreciate the support!

Frahoobala91 karma

So we have the restaurant boom in Cleveland, but it's threatened by lack of good staff. How is the institute responding to this issue and how in demand are the students?

Brandon_Chrostowski206 karma

The restaurant boom is, in fact, true, but the general idea of lack of good staff is not the problem; it's a lack of training. It's restaurant owners who don't know how to train or don't want to train because they expanded into too many restaurants too rapidly.

We don't have a difficult time running a fine dining restaurant. We have a waiting list of people who want to be involved. And it's not the staff, it's the training. We get people in here with no experience, and we train them to be the best.

We respond by training to the top and training leaders. Currently, there are 40 restaurants who are on a list waiting to hire, so the demand is high.

BlackSuN4263 karma

Is the business model viable? Could someone do the same thing without the 501 status?

Brandon_Chrostowski98 karma

Yes and No, you would have to cut out a lot of the extras such as housing, case management and other perks our students have. If you work had enough its possible.

iamseamonster61 karma

Thank you for what you are doing! The system makes it so hard for ex convicts to make a living and avoid reverting to crime once they are out of prison. You are doing an awesome thing giving these folks a second chance at life. How passionate are the employees? Do you look into what they were in prison for, if so whats some of the common crimes they did time for?

Brandon_Chrostowski90 karma

Our students are here 50 hours a week for little pay, the have homework and papers due weekly, if that's not passion I don't know what is.

Pasglop55 karma

As a Frenchman, I wanted to know, what is served in French Restaurants? Since you're fine dining, I can't imagine it being things like Pot au Feu or Potée Bretonne, but except Foie Gras, nothing comes to mind when I think of fine dining which is very French.

carp3150 karma

Did you ever felt like giving up and what did you do in such situations?

Brandon_Chrostowski114 karma

No, its been tough at times, but in tight or difficult times its about pushing through and fighting for the cause

Lenitas44 karma

I had lunch in a restaurant with a similar MO in Charlotte, probably about 8 years ago, and loved it.

Do you keep in touch with similar businesses, e.g. To discuss business strategies and experiences, or collaborate in any other way such as marketing?

Brandon_Chrostowski79 karma

Good q. We try to reach out to other players in this space but pretty buried in what we have going on. Please send me info about the restaurant in Charlotte as I would love to check out.

6-_-j41 karma

How much extra does your insurance cost?

Brandon_Chrostowski77 karma

No extra cost. At the beginning there was a bit of difficulty finding insurance, but the rate is the same as a typical restaurant. The greater difficulty was more about finding the travelers insurance ( coverage for visits to prison). Liquor and all that wasn't too difficult.

ZyraReflex41 karma

Oh shit, I live right down the road from this! Anyway, my question is this: Do you have problems promoting the business sometimes? I would expect a restaurant run by reformed convicts wouldn't have the most popular ad campaign...

forava740 karma

your most memorable worker(s)?

Brandon_Chrostowski58 karma

Kelvin Bailey, from where he started to where he is now.

You can see a little more about him on life after edwins here http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/17/us/cnnheroes-brandon-chrostowski-edwins-cleveland/

chemchick2738 karma

I work with inmates working in Correctional Industries. We also run a cafe, staffed by female inmates, which is open to the public.

Do you find a good deal of your business is for the novelty factor?

We get a ton of people that drop by because getting served by inmates is a weird and strange experience. It's amazing how often people say, "Oh, they're just like normal people."

Thank you for the work you do, I sincerely believe giving someone a purpose and a chance is the best way to keep recidivism rates down and make a real change in someone's life.

Brandon_Chrostowski111 karma

No, we do not, we are charging $34 for a french hamburger, the novelty wears off if the quality isn't there.

ApoplecticPony35 karma

Live in Cleveland and shared your story on Facebook a few weeks ago when it made the front page. I could only hope to have an impact like you in the community. Do you guys have volunteer opportunities?

Brandon_Chrostowski43 karma

Thanks for the kind words! We depend on volunteers for lots of things - you can reach out to our volunteer coordinator, Marie, at volunteer (at) edwinsrestaurant.org who can share more.

mitchmayne3434 karma

I have worked with former inmates in the past and I know it can be difficult adjusting to life in the real world after their release from prison.

Could you tell me about some of the support services that you provide members of your program with outside of your restaurant?

Brandon_Chrostowski80 karma

You're right, its a big transition. We offer whatever someone needs to accomplish their goal. If we don't have it in house we go to our strong network of supporters, diners, etc., most of whom are highly rated int their field of work. We have a case manager that helps with any social needs, connects them with child care, social services, etc. We also have attorney that helps with legal woes (driver's license reinstatement, child support, custody battles, etc.). We also offer a family class to build stronger families. We have a handwriting analysis expert who has become more of a counselor. We also offer housing for students and alumni. On top of that we have a staff that cares about each student as if they were a member of the family.

cmhbob31 karma

Brandon, I think this is awesome. This is the only way we're going to help people turn their lives around. We can't throw them in a cage for 5 or 10 or 12 years, then turn them loose and expect them to succeed in a world that left them behind.

I love what amount to grassroots efforts like this. Rachel's House in Columbus does some of the same support stuff it sounds like you're doing, aimed at women returning to society after drug and prostitution offenses.

Can you talk a little more about the beginnings of your work, or point us to more writings? What kind of support or pushback did you get from the Parole Authority in the beginning? Was there a lot of doubt on their end? How difficult was it to get into the prisons for classes?

And a last q, if you want: care to comment on the ODRC decision to get rid of the system's farmland and that decisions's effects on diets and such?

Brandon_Chrostowski30 karma

Here's a link to a few of my recent op-eds: http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2016/06/02/op-ed-heeding-the-humanity-of-former-prisoners http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2014/07/prison_gave_me_a_recipe_for_fr.html

We didn't get any push back, we got support. Parole officers don't want to see people fail. They want solutions for success. We also had zero resistance from prisons for our classes. Re: the ODRC decision, its unfortunate but I understand there is a cost associated with that. I thought it was great opportunity for them to learn valuable skills and where food comes from.

40714529 karma

having 2 felons in my family I certainly would say thank you for what you do, its certainly hard for them to find gainful employment at this point. I have had the idea of doing something similar but with something similar to a thrift store or habitat for humanity type store, what advice would you give me?

Brandon_Chrostowski31 karma

in spirit, don't stop working towards your goal. Don't EVER stop. After that, six things: one, write business plan; get it out of your head and make it vulnerable.

Two, incorporate. Take up space in our world.

Three, get your team together.

Four, develop a brand.

Five, start doing it.

And, six, and now you're ready to start raising capital.

quentin-coldwater28 karma

Yo who's the biggest Cleveland celeb you guys have served?

I'm originally from Cleveland and I'm really excited to see people like you helping to revitalize the community. Keep up the great work!

Brandon_Chrostowski40 karma

For food Michael Symon Michael Rhulman

Politics Senators Sherrod Brown

entertainment Al Roker (cleveland native)

Sports: Joe Jurevicius

Hipsterpiggy28 karma

Do your employees ever suggest recipes and if so, what was the weirdest recipe and what was the best recipe?

Brandon_Chrostowski50 karma

Yes, they do. The weirdest was bleu cheese ice cream. They come up with recipes for our specials all the time, so come in for dinner to try the best ones.

Jackh8725 karma

Were you ever afraid to fire anyone?

Brandon_Chrostowski54 karma

No. There are certain issues that we have 0 tolerance for and are easy calls to make. The other times we have to let someone go are because of effort and we give many opportunities to succeed so it is an easy call to make. No fear when being fair and doing the right thing.

hngryhngryhippo25 karma

You mentioned the 3 week boot camp a lot...I'm curious, what does that entail?

Brandon_Chrostowski44 karma

Gastronomy, Culinary Math, ServSafe, Menu Knowledge, and a number of other things all very intense training.

boardatron23 karma

Are you aware if any of the employees did time together?

Do they talk about prison at all during casual conversation? More specificallly, have you ever heard "prison rules!", jokingly or not?

And just from your viewpoint, what's the ratio of ethnicities in your employees?

Brandon_Chrostowski38 karma

Yeah, there have been people who did some time together.

To your second question, not really, but you do hear students recall some moments, particularly as it relates to cooking techniques inside.

In an average class, it's 90% African American and 10% white, and there are certainly more men than women.

fledermaus919 karma

Hi Brandon! I work at a nonprofit in Nashville that helps formerly incarcerated people find employment so I love what you're doing. Employment and job training is absolutely the biggest factor in reducing recidivism. Also, a big fan of the wrap-around services you offer. Have you had any trouble with finding interested employees or with retention? And have you had any trouble with community support and fund development?

Brandon_Chrostowski36 karma

We have close to 100 restaurant in the city who have hired our students, and a list of about 40 who are waiting for students to graduate. We are trying to make the community better and they are behind us fully!

jimsternub19 karma

It's my understanding that many kitchens develop quirks or rituals that become a part of the kitchen's culture. Have any of these kinds of peculiarities emerged in the kitchen at EDWINS?

Brandon_Chrostowski56 karma

Long running joke, our director of culinary arts, Gerry Grim, been with us from the start. Any word, say like Cherry or Blueberry becomes Gerryies or bluegerries

Non-Polar18 karma

Hi Brandon, I just want to say that as someone who lives 5-10 minutes away from your place, it's been a real pleasure. My parents brought me up there last fall, and I really didn't know what to expect. However, I was absolutely blown away by the service and hospitality. My question is, what is the most memorable instance of a former worker leaving to do something else?

Brandon_Chrostowski16 karma

To many to mention, I do love when a student comes back to talk about his experiences somewhere else though

charlie152916 karma

Are there any aspects of your training programme that are different to other restaurants' training programmes which are designed to educate your workers on the cons of reoffending/show them the pros of employment?

Brandon_Chrostowski43 karma

We are more aggressive, each student works every position in the restaurant. To the second part of your question, there are no lessons on why not to re-offend the trick is to provide more powerful yes. If we can keep a student more focused on accomplishing their goals the temptation to return to there old way becomes a less powerful yes.

callmetmrw15 karma

Im assuming the customers know the fame around the restaurant. But do you ever still get a shitty customer?

Brandon_Chrostowski35 karma

A majority do know about what we do but many still do not. This restaurant is no different than others and we still get our share of the shit. I will tell you that we are not a cheap restaurant and if we do not deliver then we reap what we sow!

UAGC13 karma

My fiancée and I are going to EDWINS for valentines day this year. Any suggestions?

Brandon_Chrostowski35 karma

Oysters, Paupiette, Venison, Chocolate Pyramid!

Nathanomous13 karma

Would ever branch out?

Brandon_Chrostowski30 karma

We want to build deeper not wider, that why we have done the butcher shop and campus, we want to expand on our neighborhood and where we are. We have 166 graduates, they are our expansion.

http://www.clevescene.com/scene-and-heard/archives/2017/01/09/edwins-to-open-butcher-shop-in-buckeye-neighborhood-in-mission-to-better-lives-of-many

http://www.cleveland.com/business/index.ssf/2015/09/edwins_second_chance_campus_co.html

id3ntitycrisis12 karma

Were you excited to hear about the Edwin Encarnacion signing?

Brandon_Chrostowski15 karma

Only if he comes to the restaurant!

fishbert9 karma

So, if I discover I've left my wallet at the table when I get home, I should just move on and get a new one, eh?

Just kidding. I think it's wonderful that you're giving this opportunity to people who are trying to pull their lives back together when so many other employers would just toss their job application in the bin right away over their record. I wish you and your employees the best.

Brandon_Chrostowski15 karma

Thanks for cheering us on. It's that kind of support that helps us out.

And it's funny you mention it because that's actually happened a few times, and we've chased people out the door to return their wallet - cell phones, too.

ohiBROfratstar9 karma

NEOhioan here, how long is the wait to get a table? Are we lookin at months, days, hours?

Brandon_Chrostowski17 karma

The wait is not long if you choose to eat at 5:00 or 9:00. We're a few weeks on 7:00 reservations on the weekends.

There is also a bar and lounge where you can walk in!

sweetcarolina1108 karma

What made you decide to use a restaurant/food service as a means of rehabilitating ex-cons to life outside of prison?

Brandon_Chrostowski23 karma

It's all I know. It worked for me and knew that it would work for others. When you start peeling away at this business there are so many life lessons like humility, discipline and respect that it ended up being the perfect fit!

Joey2Tymes6 karma

Hows Cleveland treat fine dining?

Brandon_Chrostowski9 karma

Good if you are good, bad if you don't know what you are doing we try to meet the former.

dumpsterhat4 karma

ur all innocent tho right?

Brandon_Chrostowski12 karma

Aren't we all!

bumbo13 karma

Isn't hiring "ex"crooks this the biz model for every diner?

Brandon_Chrostowski21 karma

If that means hiring hard workers then this industry is notorious for hiring hard workers, hard work is king. It doesn't matter if you're an ex-convict, immigrant etc. It's all about hard work in this industry.

brandonmreid3 karma

My name's Brandon too! Have you ever come across any problems with someone you've hired?

Brandon_Chrostowski4 karma

Nothing outside of normal restaurant issues.

hoverfordetails3 karma

Any plans to bring a restaurant to the west side of Cleveland? Or any other location?

Brandon_Chrostowski5 karma

For the moment we are expanding around where we are now.

MudSama2 karma

Has anyone ever asked why you didn't link your menu in the topic when you're running a restaurant? If not, I'd like to ask that question.

Brandon_Chrostowski4 karma

Hasn't been asked, but here it is http://edwinsrestaurant.org/menu/

xthatguy339x2 karma

Would you consider hiring Bobby Hernandez when he gets out?

Brandon_Chrostowski4 karma

We don't ask about the past, if he wants a second chance we are willing to give it.

whataburger-at-2-am1 karma

Any types of criminals you refuse to hire? Seems kind of odd to me to give that kind of assistance to someone like a sex offender.

Brandon_Chrostowski5 karma

Don't ask don't tell policy. We just ask applicants if they were in the justice system.

chrisinkcmo1 karma

Are there types of crimes that are automatic disqualifiers? We are all aware of how most convicts feel about pedo's, but will you hire rapists, arsonists, murders - or do you try to limit it to crimes that were non-violent.

With that said - I personally spent 14 years in Law Enforcement (part of it working in a jail). Although I didn't work in a "prison" - I processed hundreds of guys (and gals) just getting out. It became quite clear to me (from my time in jail - then on the streets) that there were just some people that would never adapt to society*** and were better off in jail. How often do you run across these folks and can you spot them right off the bat (I know for me - after a number of years you could almost tell a career criminal just by their mannerisms and they way they talked/looked at you).

Have you had any issues with the EEOC for discrimination? I would also imagine that saying you "only" hire ex-cons would open you up to liability from some of the lawsuit-happy lawyers who might sue you for "discriminating" against non-criminals. Have you had any of these issues - or have you been able to avoid the liberal ambulance chasers (I would imagine it would be a catch-22 for most liberals because on one hand they would accuse you of discrimination - but on the other hand they would be happy you are employing ex-cons... I bet their heads explode thinking about it).

*** edit - after re-reading I know some folks will see this as saying I am just saying "lock them up forever" - I am referring to folks that are life-long criminals - who the second they hit the street are already looking for a scheme/angle. I'm sure Brandon will agree that there are folks that just cannot live in open society - and I am referring to these folks.

Brandon_Chrostowski1 karma

Good question! Don't ask, don't tell policy. We just ask if someone was involved in the justice system.

There are people who are career criminals and belong in prison if they are a danger to society. How we weed through those who want to be here is through an extremely rigorous 3 week boot camp. We will loose half by the time that is over.

The one thing I will not surrender to is fear.

Fortunately we have not had someone take a shot at us. If it ever did happen I incorporated this as a 501 c 3 and outlined a mission that we have to adhere to in order to keep our exempt status. This would hold up pretty strongly in any arena.

Great questions!

orangefrog211 karma

What if. Just what if you hired two members of rival gangs, and they didn't really like each other and bad stuff happened?

Brandon_Chrostowski5 karma

Chances are that gang members aren't making it through our boot camp for three weeks. They're not making it through the shit we throw at them. But, if they did, it would be an interesting competition to see who's better in the restaurant business.

Subzero99981 karma

Can you guys give us Encarnacion back?

Brandon_Chrostowski2 karma

No!

NotAnUlt0 karma

Can you find the funniest story of the convicts from prision?

Brandon_Chrostowski4 karma

None that come to mind. I think some of the funnier stories are how literal something is taken when given direction. Most of the students in the prison program are very disciplined, follow directions and don't want to fail. Everything we say is taken so seriously that it can be humorous.

TheTallestOfTopHats0 karma

Have you ever rejected an application because someone was not a convict?

Please come back when you've committed at least three felonies

Brandon_Chrostowski5 karma

No, our focus is on those returning home but we are willing to give anyone a second chance.